Anthony Cirelli scored on a breakaway in overtime to propel the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. It was a game where the score wasn’t quite indicative of the play on the ice as the Lightning dominated for long stretches of the game. Ottawa was quite opportunistic, managing to tie the game up twice before losing in overtime.
Nikita Kucherov, who was questionable to play before the game, opened the scoring and Cedric Paquette and Brayden Point also scored in regulation for the Bolts. Mark Borowieci, Connor Brown and Anthony Duclair scored for the Senators. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 25 of 28 shots to pick up the win while Marcus Hogberg made 36 saves for Ottawa.
The Lightning came out firing early in the game as they took advantage of a tired, beat-up Ottawa defense. They had several solid chances in the first five minutes, most noticeably from Ondrej Palat on a deflection and Tyler Johnson off of a feed from Carter Verhaeghe, but couldn’t get one past Marcus Hogberg.
They finally broke the ice on a bit of a fluke. Victor Hedman started the play by stickhandling down low and deking Hogberg, unfortunately he didn’t have an angle and his shot was cleared from the crease. Hogberg had lost his stick in the scramble and instead of waiting for the puck to clear the zone, he started looking for it. Nikita Kucherov had the puck and wristed it into an unguarded net as Hogberg was looking elsewhere.
Ottawa, despite playing most of the period in their own zone, found an equalizer a few minutes later as Mark Borowiecki’s shot from the point weaved its way through a crowd in front of the net and off of Vasilevskiy’s shoulder before settling in the back of the Lightning net.
The teams played rather evenly following the goal, but eventually the Lightning forecheck paid off with another goal. Cedric Paquette slammed into a mass of bodies along the end wall and dislodged the puck. Patrick Maroon then shrugged off a hit in the other corner before feeding the puck to Yanni Gourde. Gourde sent it to Paquette in front of the net and Ceddy buried a wrister.
It looked like the Lightning were going to pull away in the second period as it appeared they were controlling much of the play. Unfortunately a couple of mistakes ended up in the back of their net.
Things started off nicely following a strong penalty kill by Tampa Bay. Steven Stamkos stepped out of the penalty in time to collect the puck and feed it to Brayden Point who was streaking through the neutral zone. Point never slowed down, went a little wide on Ron Hainsey and then wristed a shot past Hogberg.
The two-goal lead didn’t last through Paul Porter’s announcement over the PA. Connor Brown was minding his own business in front of Vasilevskiy when the puck bounced his way. With a couple of Lightning players just standing around in front of him he swatted it into the net to make it 3-2.
Anthony Duclair used his speed to tie the game up. During a shift that was being dominated by the Point line, Kucherov tried to make a little pass in a crowd at the top of the slot but Duclair knocked it down with his skate and broke the other way. No one on the ice is faster than Duclair and he buried his breakaway chance.
The biggest news in the third period was Nikita Kucherov being stapled to the bench. He took one shift a minute into the period and then didn’t see the ice from their on out. The Lightning did still have the better of the play, but just couldn’t get a puck in the net. Their best chance came late in the period when Alex Killorn fed a puck to Gourde in the slot. He had the big goalie leaning but couldn’t lift the puck over his left pad.
Tampa Bay did survive a four-minute penalty after Stamkos whacked J.G. Pageau in the face with his stick. Ottawa never really had a good look despite the extended time.
Apparently the two teams forgot that coaches had found a way to remove all of the fun from overtime. There were several rushes from both team throughout the bonus period with Vasy stopping Pageau on a breakaway early and the Lightning generating several chances in front of Hogberg.
In the end, it was Anthony Cirelli gathering up a loose puck and galloping into the Ottawa zone. He made a quick move to split two defenders and he flipped the puck past Hogberg before crashing into the net and the goaltender. Unlike a couple of times in previous weeks, the puck crossed the line before Cirelli crashed into the goaltender and the goal counted. The Lightning walked away with two very needed points.
The Lightning had a ton of space in the Ottawa zone at even strength all night long. The Senators really collapsed down low and focused on blocking shots in front of their rookie goaltender. Tampa Bay was very patient with the puck and didn’t try to force things that weren’t there (except for the Kucherov play that led to Duclair’s goal). They were also very strong on puck retrieval throughout the night which helped them build up so many offensive opportunities.
It wasn’t a clean game for them, but they did pick up the win which is the most important thing.
Nikita Kucherov (unassisted): 1-0 Tampa Bay
Mark Borowiecki (Chris Tierney, Vlad Namestnikov): 1-1
Cedric Paquette (Yanni Gourde, Patrick Maroon): 2-1 Tampa Bay
Brayden Point (Steven Stamkos): 3-1 Tampa Bay
Conor Brown (Fabian Brannstrom, Chris Tierney): 3-2 Tampa Bay
Anthony Duclair (unassisted): 3-3
Anthony Cirelli (Brayden Point): 4-3 Tampa Bay
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk